British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

An oily fish diet increases insulin sensitivity compared to a red meat diet in young iron-deficient women

Santiago Navas-Carreteroa1, Ana M. Pérez-Granadosa1, Stefanie Schoppena1a2 and M. Pilar Vaqueroa1 c1

a1 Department of Metabolism and Nutrition, Instituto del Frío, Institute of Food Science and Technology and Nutrition (ICTAN), Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), José Antonio Novais, 10, 28040 Madrid, Spain

a2 Lipid Research Unit, Fundación Jiménez Díaz, Avd. Reyes Católicos 2, 28040 Madrid, Spain


Beneficial effects of n-3 fatty acids on a variety of physiological functions have been reported, but information related to the effects of oily fish consumed within a varied diet on glucose metabolism and diabetes risk is scarce. The objective of the study was to compare the effects of a diet rich in oily fish to those of a diet rich in red meat on lipid profile, oxidative status, glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in young, iron-deficient women. The study was designed attending the CONSORT statement guidelines. It was a randomised crossover dietary intervention study with two 8-week periods. Two diets were designed differing only in their oily fish or red meat content (four portions per week). Twenty-five young iron-deficient women with normal lipid, glucose and insulin levels participated in the assay. Lipid profile (total, LDL- and HDL-cholesterol, TAG), fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and oxidation (lipoperoxides) and inflammation (soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1) biomarkers were analysed. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by the Homeostasis Model Assessment (HOMA) and Quantitative Insulin Sensitivity Check Index (QUICKI). Insulin levels significantly decreased and insulin sensitivity significantly increased with the oily fish diet. HDL-cholesterol significantly increased with the oily fish diet. Other parameters did not significantly differ between diets. An increase in oily fish consumption increases insulin sensitivity in young iron-deficient women. This outcome should be considered when giving dietary advice to this population.

(Received October 10 2008)

(Revised December 04 2008)

(Accepted December 04 2008)

(Online publication February 12 2009)


c1 Dr Ma Pilar Vaquero, fax +34 91 5493627, email;


Abbreviations: HDL-c, HDL-cholesterol; HOMA, Homeostasis Model Assessment; QUICKI, Quantitative Insulin Sensitivity Check Index; LDL-c, LDL-cholesterol; sICAM-1, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1; sVCAM-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1; Total-c, total cholesterol